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But withal I affirm that if there be not a change made in thy heart, by a supernatural power, mastering and overruling thy corruptions, subduing thee from thyself to serve God in holiness of life, that as yet thy brags of thy justification are but in vain. For it is most certain where Christ's blood hath wrought justification there doth it also work sanctification, in holiness of life. For Christ's blood in justification is like unto a plaster to hide our sins that the ugliness of them appear not. But as in a plaster there is more virtue than only to hide the sore, which pierceth also inwardly in the wound, eating away the corruptions and infectious matter, until by degrees it cleanse and heal again. So the blood of Christ in justification, (if it be rightly applied,) is I confess unto thee as a sufficient plaster to hide the sore of thy sins, but it hath also a further virtue, it must also search into the sore, meet with the humour, and eat away by degrees thy corruptions, subdue thy rebellious passions and affections, make thee a new man to live an holy life, and serve him without fear constantly for ever, now pulling away one piece of corruption and then another. So that I say thou canst not have justification without sanctification; and sanctification hath also further notes of assurance in it. For then the Spirit also giveth further testimonies to our consciences by an holy life. St. John he joineth them thus together," Excepte (saith he) that a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven." But this were a bottomless gulf to speak of. So much then for this time. Now let us pray, &c.
e John, chap. 3. ver. 5.
HEBREWS, CHAP. II. VER. 14, 15.
Forasmuch, then, as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part with them, that he might destroy through death him that had the power of death, that is the devil.
And that he might deliver all them, which for fear of death, were all their life-time subject to bondage.
WHAT the natural estate of a man unredeemed is, (to be as a branch cut off from the root, a child of death; and an heir of hell; for ever to be banished from the presence of God, &c.) if we knew or did rightly consider, it would so astonish us, that we would never be merry in this life, until a better had freed us from these fears. This certainly is a cruel estate which giveth a man no peace, but maketh him always fear. Most miserable is this estate before deliverance, being enthralled unto sin and death, so that no slave is so servile to his lord, as a man in this estate is to his vile and corrupt affections; wherein being fallen from grace, in the state of bondage we now remain. This fall of bondage from so glorious a freedom which we once had, is a most fearful fall, to be bond-slaves now unto sin, Satan, and our own corruptions. Yea, whosoever he be who is not redeemed, he is a bond slave, being fettered to the devil and his own corruptions. Yet for all this, all mankind is not thus left, but some have redemption and freedom, some are partakers of deliverance, by the merits and death of Christ. Neither must we think this was an easy thing for our Blessed Saviour thus to die for us, for he could not die in his palace of Heaven, but must come to a miserable world, environed with sinners and all kind of troubles, there to be abased, humbled, disgraced, and contemned.
Lastly, dying in bitterness of soul, when for our sins he appeared as a man forsaken, being made a spectacle of angels and men; such was and is the fearful estate of nature, that to redeem some it cost the Son of God so dear. From whence the point for our instruction is that death. seizeth upon a natural man in the estate of nature, as his proper prey and due debt; if he be not changed and renewed by regeneration. If this were rightly weighed and duly considered, and laid to heart as we should, it would give us no rest until we had found ourselves engrafted in Christ, until our consciences had settled a secure peace by anchoring upon him, never resting until we had found such means, whereby all our sins might be reckoned up on his score. This point is very necessary to be urged and stood upon; for such is our dulness, that although we hear of these things, yet we weigh them not seriously, we meditate not, nor lay them to our hearts carefully, as things effectually belonging unto us, and briefly, the present alluring face of things doth so carry us away with their deceits, that we cannot (I am sure we do not) think seriously of the greatness of our sins, of what heavy curse for the least of them we stand guilty; we think not of the pains of the damned, what horror it shall be to be banished for ever from the presence of God; we prize not aright the great benefit of redemption, the glory to come, nor the excellency of this deliverance from the fear of death now to be spoken of: we are, I say, marvellous dull creatures.
Well to proceed: death seizes, as I have said, upon a natural man as his prey. For this look Rom. chap. 6. The apostle there showetha that "the wages of sin is death." Death as a due debt, seizeth upon the natural sinful man as his prey, death must prey and live upon him for continuance, and that sin is of this nature that it calleth continually for death, as an hireling for his wages. So Saint James speaketh to rich worldly men, "Behold the hire of your labourers, which have reaped your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth, and the cries of them
a Rom. chap. 6. ver. 23.
b James, chap. 5. ver. 4.
which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts." Not only this sin therefore, but every sin a man committeth, is like unto an hireling continually crying unto God for vengeance. So in another place this apostle telleth us, "that lust when it is conceived bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death;" sin crieth still for death. So the blood of Abel, it was a quiet thing done in secret, and the earth drunk up the blood; O! but the guilt thereof ascended, crying unto God for vengeance. Saith the Lord to Cain, "the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the earth." It gave the Lord no rest, importuning speedy vengeance. So the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah cried unto God for vengeance so instantly, that the Lord at last revealeth the matter to his friend Abraham, saying, "Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is exceeding grievous, I will go down and see whether they have done altogether according to that cry." I will go down, saith he, their grievous sins give me no rest, but still call for death, and destruction.
Let us now therefore consider the fearful estate of sinful natural man, that so many sins as he committeth, he hath so many importunate suitors unto God for vengeance to come upon him; nay now these sins (such is their misery) give the Lord no rest until he send down vengeance for them. They further plead equity unto God. That death and vengeance are the wages of sin, and he being a just God, must needs give every one what belongeth unto him. So that tribulation and anguish must needs come upon the soul which sinneth, both Jew and Gentile. So the apostle demandeth there', putting them in mind of the bitter fruits of sin, whereof, being in some sort freed, we are ashamed, "whats fruit had ye in these things, whereof ye are now ashamed, for the end of those things is death;" whatsoever the beginning be, the end is fearful, even death; one death
leading unto the eternity of another. Sinners in this life act a tragedy, which although in the beginning you see nothing but mirth, and joy on all parts, yet stay but a little and look upon the end, and you shall see the destruction of soul and body, a bloody tragical conclusion, a cruel and bitter death, shall make a fearful and final end of them. They shall be the prey of death, which shall bring them unto hell fire for ever. The apostle he also saith", that at first the deceitfulness of sin slew him, until Christ had freed him, he was as a prey of death, a dead man, so long as sin had dominion over him, for, saith he, "sin took occasion by the commandment and deceived me, and thereby slew me."
Thus you see that sin and death go hand in hand together; if thou continue in sin, look unto it, for it will surely bring death before thou be aware. We use to fly from, or earnestly resist our enemies; yet here is our misery, that sin being so fearful an enemy, yet we neither resist nor fly from it, we fear it not, but we will dally with it so long, until it will destroy us. Every sin we commit giveth unto us a wound, until a number of them at last prove deadly. Every oath thou swearest it giveth a stab unto the soul, until it bring destruction. Sin, saith the apostle, revived, and I died. No sooner doth sin revive, but death also taketh footing therewith. He calleth it also towards the end of the chapter, a body of death; it is not a parcel, a leg or an arm of death, but sin is strong, with united forces it cometh on strongly, it will surely kill, it is a body of death. Nay, which is worse and more dangerous, sin is like a body within a body, having like unto a woman with child, a quick thing within thee, which if thou destroy not betimes it will kill thee. And who would be so mad, as willingly or any wise entertain or cherish that which in the end will kill him. So we have the sting of death within us, even sin, which without help will bring us unto death. For after sin, then cometh the sting to prove deadly, whereupon death en
Rom. chap. 7. ver. 11.
1 Cor. chap. 15. ver. 55, 56.